Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (Revelation 2:29)
To the Church in Ephesus
“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first (Revelation 2:1-4 NIV)
The book of Revelation contains letters addressed to the Seven Churches in Asia Minor. At the time, Asia Minor specifically referred to Turkey, a country bordering two continents namely Asia and Europe. Having been exiled to the rocky island of Patmos, John was given a revelation by God to write the book. The first message was directed to the Church of Ephesus, which was pioneered by Apostle Paul himself. Here the “angel of the Church” refers to the pastor of the Church of Ephesus – blessed is the pastor, acknowledged as the angel of the Church because he looked after his members.
Our God is all-knowing God and he knows every little detail of our daily lives. This book of Revelation written to the Church of Ephesus documented various instructions for us to living our best every day; think of today as the our last day.
Jesus taught us to be patient, especially for the people we love most. Patience differs from impatience only by its level of expectation. Let us be wise parents who teach our children about the truth, by being discerning to the things that God wants us to be patient about, for there are other areas that should not be taken lightly. Do not be lenient to evil things; quickly say ‘no’ to bad habits, abusive words, and sinful deeds.
When we go astray from our first love, God reprimands us. Do not forsake the foundation upon which our faith has grown and matured. Jesus reminded them of how serious this problem was for forsaking the love they had at first, even if it was not directly referred to as sin. The spiritual erosion was enough to qualify as a serious shortfall before His presence. Let His Word remind us before we fall into sin, because God is good.
To the Church in Smyrna
“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan (Revelation 2: 8-9 NIV).
Jesus reminded the Church of Smyrna on their association with the Jews and Romans. Listen carefully to the Holy Spirit and let not be swayed with the shifting Christian teaching. It was the time whereby the Jews were the anti-Christian and the Romans worshipped Caesar. Jesus offered them words of consolation by saying that He let certain afflictions happen in our lives to bring out the best in us: to forgive when we are hated. Sometimes we learn better at being grateful when we are afflicted.
Do not put the blame on God for our hardships. Satan tempted us into hardships, yet do not be afraid when we are tempted because Jesus had said that He would not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. All of our troubles have an expiration date.
To the Church in Pergamum
“To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality (Revelation 2:12-14 NIV).
In Pergamum, known as a city library boasting a massive collection of 200,000 books in that era, Jesus introduced Himself as “A man of one book”. Only the Word in the Bible can represent a sharp, two-edged sword. The truth in the Word holds the ultimate autonomy for all believers.
Jesus understands our afflictions and He is understanding towards every milestone of our spiritual journey. He understands the difficulties we face being under the scrutiny of Satan’s dominion. Therefore, test everything; because Satan targets our vulnerability as we tend to make compromises out of poor judgements. This is a case of personal sins turning into a major corporate sin – the sins of a small group of people causing all of other Churches to be rebuked by Jesus with the Word.
To the Church in Thyatira
“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:18-20 NIV).
Though the Church in Thyatira had borne much fruits through many generations, Jesus rebuked them because they had harmfully neglected the presence of Jezebel, a woman who had widely misled the people of God. He knows that repentance demands time and He has provided ample of it.
Therefore, hold tight to this truth: remember that everything from God is clear, good, and proven. Do not let yourself be trapped in the devil’s unclear, devious game. Rather, be transparent with God so that we can live our best every day.
Extracted from Philip Mantofa’s Sermon